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ACTing at Walmart

The Beginning of Something Much Larger

For Katelynne Hinckley, senior Honors student, an on-campus internship with Walmart was the beginning of something much larger – something she didn’t anticipate when she accepted “The Dignity of Women in Supply Chain” internship in 2018. Then later, during her junior core of the Marriott School’s Supply Chain program, Walmart recruiters came to campus for a merchandising operations internship. Because she had had such a positive and informative experience working with Walmart previously, she was immediately interested. Her earlier on-campus internship gave Katelynne an edge for this next competitive internship. Tо her great excitement, she was selected for a 12 week internship for the summer of 2020 in Bentonville, Arkansas at the Walmart Home Office.

However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, she completed the internship remotely from Provo. It turned out to be a very challenging experience that tested many of the skills that she had learned in her classes, especially data analytics. Katelynne says, “The first week felt like I was drinking from a firehose as I tried to absorb as much information as possible and learn the different systems and programs that Walmart uses. Part of being the "Fortune 1" company means dealing with more data than you can imagine!”

Her project was called "HVDC to RDC Conversion," which was a replenishment role for the cereal aisle. She worked with Quaker, General Mills, and Kellogg's to determine whether specific products should be moved from a high velocity distribution center to a regional distribution center. This role required constant critical thinking on her part, and she was expected to present ideas, findings, and recommendations to company executives and suppliers. She had the opportunity to work with associates in many different areas in the company on cross-functional teams, and the decisions she helped to make affected stores all over the country. An especially exciting aspect of Katelynne’s work with Walmart related to the vast scope of the company. Because Walmart’s influence is so massive, every decisions -- even decisions made by interns -- deals in the millions and billions of dollars. Katelynne’s contributions to her team certainly made an impact financially.

While her internship was a great success, Katelynne notes it didn‘t come without its own share of 2020 hiccups. Katelynne followed this year’s Honors theme of ACTing-- that is, she needed to adapt, connect, and transcend in response to her change in plans. Katelynne explains, “Like most people during Covid, I had to learn how to work remotely and adapt to the circumstances. Both of my Walmart internships were held remotely, and my full-time position will likely start in that capacity as well. As a result, I’ve had to adopt a positive attitude and figure out how to make the most out of situations that aren’t always ideal. However, I also found that working remotely can be ripe with opportunities, even in places where it initially seems harder. For me, I was able to take advantage of the remote environment to network with people who might have normally been too busy or important to meet with me. I learned that if I took the initiative to reach out to someone and schedule a meeting on their calendar, I was more likely to get a meeting with them than if I had swung by their office in person. My internships gave me chances to connect with people of all different backgrounds and professions, and learn from them and their careers. My first internship on-campus spurred my interest in corporate social responsibility and the impact that big companies can have on the world. The second gave me a bigger glimpse of that impact as well as the data tied to it. I am hoping my career will continue the trend of being able to impact the world in a positive way. I think the Honors program as a whole has been really helpful in teaching me how to be prepared to A.C.T. The interdisciplinary approach has prepared me for working on cross-functional teams and for finding opportunities and connections everywhere. I’ve learned how to share my ideas, accept feedback, work with others, connect with others, and work for the common good.”

While Katelynne’s experience was gratifying in itself because she was able to apply her previous learning and simultaneously pick up new skills, it was even more rewarding because she was offered a full-time position with Walmart as a Merchandising Operations Analyst at the Walmart Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas beginning this fall.

For anyone wanting to embark on a similar endeavor, Katelynne advises them to put themselves out there and take every opportunity that comes their way. She said, “On-campus internships aren't usually seen as a ‘big deal,’ but it turned out to be an amazing opportunity for me and became a vital steppingstone for my future. I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I had passed up the chance to get some hands on work and gain experience.”

Now Katelynne’s attention is on completing her Honors Thesis: “How Covid-19 has Affected Customer Willingness to Participate in Value Co-creation.” She was inspired to research this topic when she noticed a huge increase in home improvement activities at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. This made her consider how people inexperienced with DIY projects were experimenting and trying new things. She also wondered what other ways consumers had changed their buying habits, especially in this realm of home improvement. She expressed these thoughts to her advisor, Dr. Scott Sampson, who helped her brainstorm ideas that connected her consumerism idea with her major in global supply chain.

Katelynne was introduced to the Honors Program through some incredible mentors that led her to the "Late Summer Honors" program, a one-week introductory honors class. She took the leap and signed up, and never looked back. Her later involvement in the “Great Questions Essay” class inspired her to constantly consider disciplines and ideas that were foreign and interesting to her. Though she experienced a somewhat tumultuous academic career as she worked through indecision about majors and figuring out how to be a student, the Honors Program has been a constant for her. Her first class at BYU was an Honors course, and as she is now completing her last semester and finishing her thesis, she feels that the long haul has come full circle and been well worth it.

Katelynne shared the following highlights from her Honors experience:
“I look back very fondly on my Honors experience and have several favorite parts. I took a Bio-Letters class in one of the first semesters it was available and because of that, the class structure was still forming, which led to a lot of cool and spontaneous learning. Sometimes we had class on the lawn outside the MOA with the outdoor art pieces, other times it was studying stoneflies and snails under a microscope in the LSB. Of course, the most entertaining classes were the ones spent at the Provo River, wearing waders and attempting to catch said stoneflies. It was such a fun experience for me because it got me way outside of my comfort zone. My other favorite experience has been being an Honors 320 TA! I've been a TA for two semesters now and I love to read the student essays and be a part of such a cool exploration process. The 320 class taught me how to put everything together to make unexpected connections, but being a TA has made me see connections everywhere and think outside the box even more. I really like to brainstorm possible connections with students and continuously find new insights to great questions.”

Katelynne is a senior from Newport Beach, California, with double majors in Global Supply Chain Management and Spanish Studies. She is a Member of Sigma Delta Pi—the Spanish Honors Society, and had an article published about her experience at Walmart by the Marriott School of Business last year (see the article here). She loves to bake bread and eat chocolate, and she balances these hobbies out with her passion for gymnastics, yoga, and weightlifting. She will try any recipe or craft that Pinterest throws her way, and she bullet journals as her main creative outlet. She’s been known to stay up way too late to finish a good book, and has been married for almost two years.